Weekly Resource #15 – Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition


An international business competition – Connecting entrepreneurial companies with local, national and international investors.

I tell all the early stage entrepreneurs I work with to go to as many pitch and business plan competitions as they can when they’re starting out.  Even if you’re not ready to compete for funding, you’ll gain invaluable knowledge from watching others and paying attention to the judges’s comments and feedback.  I learned much of what I know today about successfully applying for funding and other key capital strategies from listening to evaluations of investor pitches.

Led by the newly formed Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan (which includes Ann Arbor SPARK, Automation Alley, Macomb-OU INCubator, and TechTown), the Business Leaders for Michigan, the University Research Corridor (Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University) and the New Economy Initiative, this competition boasts an impressive list of venture capitalists from around the nation on it’s judging panel.

In 2012, sixty venture capitalists from fifty one firms judged the competition – providing a great network across the country as well as constructive feedback to help the participating companies in their persistent drive for excellence.

So whether you’re ready to enter the company competition, or the student competition, or whether you just want to go and learn this time, register now for Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.  The deadline for company applications is August 14, so don’t delay.


Weekly Resource #12 – FASTconnect

bbc logoIf you are part of an early-stage technology company, the government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs can be an important source of funding for your project.

Through the SBIR/STTR programs, 11 federal agencies award over $2.3 billion in non-dilutive grants and contracts annually through a competitive awards-based process. The programs encourage technology-based businesses to explore ideas and profit from their commercialization. They are a great way for technology-based companies to raise money without giving up equity.

Historically, women- and minority-owned businesses have been underrepresented in the SBIR/STTR programs, although there is renewed emphasis on improving outreach to these groups.

FASTconnect, a Michigan-based program to assist the state’s SBIR awardees in their product commercialization efforts, is also working to increase SBIR/STTR participation among women and minorities. In collaboration with TechTownWayne State UniversityInforum Michigan, and the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC), a FASTconnect pilot program seeks to educate women and minorities in Southeast Michigan about these funding opportunities and help them through the application process.  Further support for participants is provided by the Michigan SBIR/STTR Assistance Program, which makes one-on-one SBIR/ STTR proposal preparation assistance available to qualified companies with costs covered in whole or in part by the state.

FASTconnect has been made possible by grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and theMichigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Both FASTconnect and the Michigan SBIR/STTR Assistance Program are managed by BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting. BBCetc specializes in helping emerging companies win SBIR/STTR funding and using it strategically to propel growth. For more information about both programs and BBCetc, visit or contact Kristin Burgard, Principal Consultant, at or 734-930-9741.